The jeers turned into cheers.
After eight seasons minus the one defining thing, “The King” earned his ring.
LeBron James laid claim to the NBA throne after leading Miami past Oklahoma City last week for his first-ever NBA crown. With it, stamped his season with The Finals’ Most Valuable Player award to go with his third regular season MVP honor.
The championship likely ends the blame game following James since he signed with Miami in the summer of 2010.
After all, how many MVPs take less than maximum money to share the spotlight? How many go to a team with an already-established, championship-winning superstar, as James did by joining Dwayne Wade in Miami, along with another perennial all-star Chris Bosh?
And who gets criticized for exercising their free-agent rights, especially considering James gave seven memorable years to his home state Cleveland Cavaliers?
Who wears the label of an underachieving after turning the league’s bottom-feeders into title contenders in Cleveland, and reaching The Finals in two of his first eight seasons before coming up short.”
Sensing he needed more help, James joined forces with Wade and Bosh to form the latest “Big Three,” no different than the star-studded lineups of recent years to win titles with no fewer than three Hall-of-Famers — the 1980s Lakers and Celtics and 1990s Bulls and the Boston teams of recent years.
Officially the game’s best player, James now takes aim at the all-time greats over the next decade. As for where James currently ranks alongside other royalty, take a look at one writer’s opinion of the league’s top 10 players of all-time.
The list combines individual acclaim (MVP and All-NBA honors) and team production, with an emphasis on championships won. Note, only players with championships and MVP awards cracked the list.
Say what you want, but at the end of the day, winning means everything — the very reason why James cracked the list, tied for 10th.
T10—LeBron James. “The King” now owns one title to go with three MVPs and six All-NBA first-team selections, getting him on the short list.
T10—Hakeem Olajuwon. “The Dream” won a pair of titles, one MVP and made the All-NBA first-team six times while becoming arguably the best all-around center of all-time.
9 — Wilt Chamberlain. “The Big Dipper” no doubt holds the distinction as the game’s best scorer ever, averaging 50 points one season, but finished with a shortage of titles (two) to go with a four MVPs and seven All-NBA first-team nods.
8 — Shaquille O’Neal. “Shaq” labeled himself the “most dominant ever,” likely a true statement after a dunk-filled career earned him four titles, one MVP and eight All-NBA first-team selections.
7 — Larry Bird. “Larry Legend” left one of the biggest imprints ever with his all-around play, which netted the former Boston Celtics forward three titles, three MVPs and nine All-NBA first-team selections.
6 — Tim Duncan. Possibly the best power forward ever, the “Big Fundamental” finds himself among an elite group of players with multiple titles (four), MVPs (two) and nine All-NBA first-team selections.
5 — Kobe Bryant. The “Black Mamba” trails the league’s most-acclaimed shooting guard by just one title with a fistful (five) to go with an MVP and 10 All-NBA first-team selections.
4 — Magic Johnson. The “Magic” man, the league’s most-decorated passer, invented Showtime and earned a reputation as a set-up man and a clutch, proven by five titles, three MVPs and nine All-NBA first-team selections.
3 — Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. “Cap” capped a 20-year career widely considered the most-accomplished basketball player of all-time when counting prep and college, with six NBA championships, six MVP awards and 10 All-NBA team selections.
2 — Michael Jordan. The greatest individual by most accounts, “Air Jordan” defined clutch as the greatest playoff player in history with six NBA Finals MVPs to go with six championships, five MVPs and 10 All-NBA first-team selections.
1 — Bill Russell. The epitome of a team player, leader and winner, Russell finished his career with as many titles as Jordan and Johnson combined, along with five MVPs and three first-team All-NBA selections during a time when Chamberlain dominated the paint.